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Sounds of Silence

    My boy sent me this piece that he wrote last month as a sample for the online writing course he is taking for 10th grade Composition this year. I hadn’t read it before today. 

I gasped when today, for the first time I read it.   

Sometimes we get glimpses of who our children really are…the person God designed when He formed them…and today, in my Inbox, I got a glimpse.

I got an oil painting/photograph/portrait/photocopy/lithograph/everyday YES of who my boy is, and who I see when I think of him as a grown man…

…and it took my breath away.

He said I could share it on my blog.

I passed off their writing instruction this year to an online coach and when they show their hearts…their minds…their writing…I beam, and I nod, and I sigh.

And sometimes…times like today…I cry quietly a little while my breath catches in my throat and I put it up in my heart and add it to the picture I see when I see them grown.

And just like my husband said when he read this…it is so beautiful.

I had to share it.

Sometimes they write our story.

And it is so beautiful. 

The Sounds of Silence

by Colton Rankin    

     Looking down the trail with the pack heavy on my back, I set off into the forest. The birds singing, and sound of small critters rustling around in the undergrowth are all familiar to my ears. As I go deeper and deeper in, the noises seem to get louder, but I start to relax knowing that with each step I am being carried away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. I reach a small creek and listen to the water flowing over the rocks. I pick up a smooth flat stone and run my fingers over it. And I wonder how long it took for the constant flow of water to wear down roughness of its surface.

     I did not bring my watch, or phone, but I guess it is noonish. I pause to look at my map. I am aiming to camp by a small lake. As I rest I hear the sounds of geese passing over me. Winter is coming, the animals are moving away from the cold harshness of it. Only the strong stay. I may not be migrating to get away from winter, but to get away from the same thing day in, day out. To live and experience something new. Let my senses take control, taste, see, feel, smell, and hear everything more vividly than before.

     I make to the lake with daylight to spare. I set camp, my tent, and sleeping bag. I gather wood for a fire. The view of the lake with forests and clearings set against a background of sky scraping mountains is breath taking. As I watch, trout start to rise on the lake, sucking in the insects that sit on the water. I grab my fishing pole and head down to the shore. I cast out and when the lure touches the water a fish inhales it. I set the hook, the fish leaps out of the water. It fights as hard as it can, but since it is only eight inches its struggle was short. I hold the small trout as it gulps for air. Easing the hook out of its mouth, I place it back in the water. As it swims out of my hand I feel the muscles along its body moving thought the water. And just like that, he is gone. Ever since I started fishing I released the first one I caught. Sometimes I released them all, but even if I was after fish to eat, I release the first one.

     I fish for a little more and catch a few more fish for my dinner. Fishing has a way of stopping time. Because when I looked up from my third fish, it was getting dark quickly. I got my fire started and the fish cooking. It was getting cold, so I put on coat, as the smell of cooking fish seemed to fill the woods.

     I sat outside my tent and ate the trout which just a little bit ago were swimming in the lake. And as I ate, a pair of loons started to call back and forth. An owl joined in hooting every so often. A pack of wolves somewhere on a faraway ridge howled at the full moon that was rising above the mountains. My campfire cracked and popped as it casted it light around. Not a single car horn, loud speaker, or persons voice could be heard. All the sounds of the wild are normally drowned out by the noise we create. We never hear them, they are silent while we fill the air noise and more noise. So, I sat, and I listened to the sounds that few can and are willing to hear, the sounds of silence.

He came close and kissed him and Isaac smelled the smell of his clothes. Finally, he blessed him,

“Ahhh. The smell of my son
    is like the smell of the open country
    blessed by God.”

Genesis 27:27, The Message

 

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When I Get Where I’m Going

Our world lost an amazing woman yesterday.

And today a blizzard came to Alaska.

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The blizzard would be pretty unremarkable -this is Alaska- unless it wasn’t March and we weren’t all feeling the pull of spring.

And the world losing an amazing woman could be pretty unremarkable too except that it’s not, and cancer comes and shocks us with the surprise of death every time.

Just when we’re all feeling the pull of life.

We’re supposed to LIVE and this cancer is a scourge and it takes too many, and even losing one is too many so when the blizzard comes and we see cars in the ditch, -so many we stop counting- my teen driver says as only teen boys can…

WHOAH.

The car in the other lane slid like a Matchbox up the little plastic flexi-ramp of our 70s track and it just left the road and came down in the ditch, -the kind of ditch Alaska is so famous for; deep, steep, and hidden- and it lands like a cotton ball on a powder puff, complete with the powder cloud of snow puffing up all around it.

DUDE.

And we can almost get so busy we forget when the world loses a precious soul, but when I hopped out to make sure the car’s occupants were okay, she is still on my mind.

The car’s occupants were precious souls too, and it turns out they knew me (I so love a small town). I have my man-boy pull our truck off the dangerous curve and get us going on the way to Algebra class while I call the next-door fire department to come check on them as they wait for the tow truck I tracked down, and I call the road department for sand all before we’re five miles down the road.

So when it comes on the radio and I think of her again -so many times in these past twenty-four hours…

what’s it like when we get to where we’re going?

When we see our Maker’s face?

When we shed the sins and struggles?

When we cry only happy tears?

When we stand forever in the light of His amazing grace?

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And last week we said good-bye to Billy and the world still rocks from our loss and Heaven’s gain. He was such a big name behind that big heart and big legacy, but on my little messy road, on the path through my blizzard…

…how many times has my little-name self landed in the ditch?

And how many times has someone stopped to pull me out?

She did.

When I was young, a pup yet, she took me under her arm, -her arm that was small but willed by her strong drive and strong love to make it work even when it was born not wanting to- and she saw who I was to become and she loved me like I already was where I was going.

And because she did, I got there.

So many others did too.

Love like that, laughter like that -even in the messy- it pushes us and grows us and fuels us even when the road is sloppy and the ditches are deep.

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After Brad and Dolly sang, I had a minute to think while my boy drove us on, and I had a smile at the thought of her laughing her way right on up to the One who gave her that laugh, that sound of pure joy.

And then I marveled at how life works because how, on this very same day, could another friend celebrate healing after finishing her last treatment? How could joy and praise mingle up with loss, all at the same time, all from the same disease?

I didn’t get to marvel too long because then Alan came on and it wasn’t Chattahoochee -that song that will forever and always bring her and the old jukebox in the break room to my mind and my heart- but it was Neon Rainbow or Itty Bitty or one of his lesser-known-but equally-beloved songs and I can hear her say

I’m restless. Let’s take a break.

And I see her toe tap and her pant leg sways over the curve of her dressy flats, and then she’s throwing her head back and laughing at something the guys on the forklifts say while Alan gives way to Randy and then Trisha and they come on all tinny and familiar and fill all the minutes and all these years.

I haven’t heard that laugh in over a decade, but I will never forget it all my days because there are so many who will miss it all their days.

She taught me so much and she formed me so much and this world won’t ever be the same.

And later that night, I text the driver of the car in the ditch to see if they made it home. We talked and talked and she wouldn’t have been able to get up out of that ditch had we not come by.

Sometimes a ditch can be so steep.

Sometimes we just need a friend to come along and help us up.

And sometimes those friends line the curved and twisted road of our heart and we won’t ever forget them because if it weren’t for them, we would never have gotten to where we were going.

The blizzard slowed and our new friends got home safely and the day calmed and I still can’t imagine a world without her in it.

But I can hear her say I’m restless. Let’s take a break…

then throw her head back and laugh while she taps her toe.

That sound of pure love and warmth…

Peace.

Joy.

And I can’t wait to see her when I get where I’m going.

~

In memory of Chuck (Sharla) Mitchell. The best boss I ever had; cherished wife, mother, grandmother, sister. Friend to many. And to me. 

3/7/18

 

In Sickness and in Health

So…it seems tough gal is okay giving horses shots but isn’t tough enough to give herself shots, so her tough guy does it for her.

Isn’t it always something new in marriage? I bet over our twenty-two years he never figured he’d be pulling meds and hovering over syringes and working up the courage to stick two needles into his wife’s left leg.

As we sat in the bathroom and he figured out his alcohol wipes and his game plan, he told me about his dad and how Hoss could cut his own finger off and probably not even flinch, but would practically pass out when his wife was hurt.

“I feel like my dad right now.”

I told him to hurry up and get it over with, that I was just fine.

And it didn’t even hurt.

Ok maybe an eensy little bit but don’t tell him that.

The older I get, the more wee glimpses I see of what the preacher man meant when he said “in sickness and in health”.

And the more thankful I grow with each passing year for the one who honors that promise daily.

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If you are experiencing ANY of the symptoms of a diseased or low-functioning thyroid, or suspect your adrenal system is not working efficiently, PLEASE begin the big work of researching this little organ that controls so much and make an appointment to see a functional, integrative health doctor to have your blood levels checked.

Start on the road to healing and don’t let a malfunctioning thyroid and/or adrenals take any more time or joy away from you and your loved ones.

*Chronic exhaustion*Always feeling foggy*Cold all the time*Tired upon waking*Unexplained weight gain*Inability to lose weight*Unexplained muscle pain*Achy joints*Hair loss*Dry, brittle hair*Skin/nail changes* (There are many more, these are some of the most common.)

I am learning so much about this disorder that affects so many today, and along with the weekly B12 shots, a wonderful functional health doctor, the love and support of my precious family, a good supplement program, extreme diet changes, and a low dose of natural thyroid replacement, I have begun the path to healing. It is my prayer for you that you too, will be able to find a diagnosis and begin your healing journey as well. Our years are numbered…let’s spend as many of them as we can in good and balanced health.

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. 2 Kings 20:5

Never Let Go

It’s a funny thing when God answers prayers that you didn’t even know you were praying.

When He sends friends you didn’t know you were in need of…

When He sends a new routine you didn’t know you were missing…

When He sends people to fill a void you didn’t even know was there…

All those little ways He tells you…

In the good times and in the bad times…

In the happy times and in the mournful times…

In the easy times and in the hard times…

He never lets go.

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Oh no, you never let go, every high and every low,

Oh no, you never let go, Lord you never let go of me.

The Leveling

I haven’t written since Beau.

At all.

Well, a couple bursts of Facebook posts here and there, but this is the first time I’ve come back to this place I love so much.

That horse did something to my heart.

It’s only been a month since he died but it seems like a year and then at night, when I wake up for my normal 3 a.m. insomnia check…it’s last week all over again.

As with any death I suppose, I think of “if only”. If only we would’ve caught it sooner. If only we would’ve known he was compromised. If only we would’ve…

And I go round and round and while I know a horse is a horse and not a human, I still grieve. We are still quiet when we speak of him.

But I know this:

Life is fragile and life is precious and sometimes life is too short. But life is a joy and a push and an embrace and sometimes you have to pause but you can never stop.

So I’m here.

I’m here and I’m yearning to write and my heart spills over now with words needing saying and letters needing typed, and this is where I want to be.

Because when God put a pen in the heart, there’s never any stopping it.

There might be a pause.

But today, again, I write.

A word-stringer might slow and her tears might flow, and her words might cease, and her heart might twist…

but after it all settles and that grief smooths some…

a writer will write.

~

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king…Psalm 45:1

Thirty-Five Cents and a Tank Full of Gas

Digging through some old pieces…sniffling a little over this one.
Marriage is so precious. I hope you’re blessed with love today. ❤

Cassandra Rankin

I pulled out of work onto the highway and instead of turning right toward home, I turned left, toward North.

He was North.

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And while it was only a Tuesday, and even though I’d just seen him on Sunday… and even though I had to work the next day…and even though I didn’t have anything with me but the clothes on my back, a quarter tank of gas and thirty-five cents in my pocket…I turned left anyway.

I pointed my little car North and I went to where he was. To where he was working hard, pounding pick axes and hefting dirt and swinging shovels and digging ditches…

…and thinking of me.Scan3

But when I got there an hour and a half later, he wasn’t there.

My knock was quiet on his motel room door and even though I’d never been there, the gas station attendant’s directions brought me right…

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Cancer Day

It is world cancer day. I won’t post one of those candle memes because there are plenty of those today.

What I WILL post is this:

Since walking through a cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation with my precious  husband a year and a half ago, I know this: cancer changes people.

It changes lives.

It is a quiet evil that screams threats and fear and destruction.

It is a monolith of a word that takes your world and turns it upside down and the only things bigger than cancer when you’re walking with cancer…

are faith, hope and love.

And the greatest of these is love.

Yes, we can greet them with a smile.

Definitely greet them with a smile.

And a hug. And flowers. A meal or two. A letter now and then.

We can pray without ceasing

And we can give them a hand to hold.

Their faith may be bigger than cancer, but even with faith there are scary moments with cancer…

but the greatest of these is love…

and believe me, when love creeps into those middle-of-the-night moments and someone with cancer feels arms wrapped around him tight…

and she feels valued as a person and loved for who she is…

and seen for his beautiful strength and not for his disease…

there ain’t NO disease that can destroy that.

Cancer changed our lives and because it did, I carry a list of treasured names in my heart. Warriors every one. Some are gone but some fight on.

Will you add my list to yours and show them faith today?

Will you share your hope?

Will you pray without ceasing? For them, for their loved ones?

But most of all, will you give them love?

Until we find a cure…

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Photo credit: Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center

 

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

 1 Corinthians 13:1-8